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In Washington's chiefest avenue
Thus appeared the crowds that greeted the army whose home-coming inspired Bret Harte's poem. From the steps of the Treasury building the impatient people gaze down Pennsylvania Avenue on the morning of June 8, 1865, awaiting the march of the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, which had been prevented by duty in Virginia from participating in the Grand Review of May 23rd. The scene is similar. The women and children in the foreground, the senators and important citizens in silk hats, the throng surging far out into the street beneath the fluttering banners, the general restlessness and impatience are the same as on the earlier and more famous gala occasion. The pomp and panoply of war are here in the parades and the blare of trumpets and the admiring hosts that line the street—not in the actual service in the field. Harte writes of actual warfare as a sad business, which only the preservation of a nation's existence or honor can justify.


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